Robert Hajszan’s Concerning Gradišće Croatian Pannonia documents the systematic work of an interesting historian and philologist, while on the other is demonstrates the robustness of the Gradišće Croatian community which has succeeded over more than 500 years to nurture and develop its language and culture within a majority Germanophone milieu.
The selected works of Robert P. Hajszan in the recently published book Concerning Gradišće Croatian Pannonia (Gradišćanskohrvatske panonske teme) include nine essays, feuilletons and reflections the author has previously published in contemporary Central European periodicals in several countries from 1979 to the present day. The book is published by the Croatian Heritage Foundation. The works included are: The Settlement of Croatian Colonists in the Seigniory of Novi Grad, The Novi Grad Glagolitic Breviary Fragments, Christian Croatian Newspapers, Joseph Haydn – a Gradišće Croat Composer?, The Gradišće Croatian Folk Tales of the Celebrated Anton Leopold, The Literary Magazine of the Croatians of Austria, Ivan Manlius and the New Newspaper of Hungary, The Development of the Pannonian Region With Particular Focus on the Gradišće Croatian Element and Concerning the Linguistic Characteristics of the Short Stories Collected in Gradišće by Balint Vujkov.
A historian, publicist and philologist, Robert Hajszan (Pinkovac, Austria, 16 July 1948) has affirmed himself over the past thirty-five years as a trusted source of knowledge on Gradišće Croatian history, it’s Croatian dialect and culture as a whole and as a writer and university lecturer. He completed his elementary education in his native town and went on to complete secondary school in Graz in 1968. In 1971 he graduated history and Croatian language at the Pedagogical Academy in Željezno (Eisenstadt). He continued his education at the University of Vienna, where he earned his doctorate in 1979 with a dissertation on famed Gradišće Croatian reformer Ignac Horvat (Mali Borištof, 1 February 1895 – Gornja Pulja, 22 April 1973), who championed the preservation of the ethnic identity of the Croatians of Austria’s Gradišće (Burgenland) region.
He began his professional career with enthusiasm in the 1970s as a publicist, education and culture professional, focusing on issues related to the Gradišće Croatian community within the Austrian cultural and social sphere. He focused in the 1980s on local historiographic research in Gradišće and the neighbouring regions – the Pannonia in which Gradišće Croatians have lived for centuries. In 1994 he got a job working as a university lecturer in history and the Croatian language at the Pedagogical Academy in Željezno.
Guided by an exceptional creative energy in 1993 he founded the Pannonian Institute (http://www.paninstitut.com) as a research and professional regional centre charged with the mission of encouraging multidisciplinary research of the multilingual Pannonian sphere as a region of a quality and sustainable coexistence of Central European nations and ethnic minorities that have for centuries lived in the lands of Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. A direct result of this organisational and research effort is the publication of the multilingual Pannonian Yearbook / Panonski ljetopis / Pannonisches Jahrbuch and, since 1994, the Pannonian News. It is worth noting that the Pannonian Yearbook, as a multilingual serial publication under the watchful editorial eye of Robert Hajszan, has in just two decades reached almost nine thousand pages that include the contributions of renowned authors, writing on contemporary subjects from the cultural and social sphere of the Croatian people in Pannonia.
Robert Hajszan has also published a number of books in the field of history as author, co-author or editor. He has edited numerous school textbooks and handbooks. Parallel to his work as a pedagogue and researcher he has participated in a number of expert round tables pooling historians and linguists in Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Croatia – remaining faithful to the culturological aspects of Gradišće cultural and general history and the mother tongue of the Gradišće Croatians in “a German sea.”
His research is focused primarily on Croatian history of the post-medieval period in an Austrian context – with his particular passion directed at the local history of the Gradišće Croatian community from the time of their arrival in present day Austria half a millennium ago during the early 16th century Ottoman Turk incursions into the heart of Europe. This fact is best illustrated in this book of selected Gradišće Croatian Pannonian topics by the essay on The Settlement of Croatian Colonists in the Seigniory of Novi Grad. In a trilingual chronicle from 1538 polyglot Robert Hajszan finds previously unknown and fascinating facts that would motivate him to write about and systematically reinterpret the history of the Gradišće Croatian community in Austria, including the challenges of the present day. One of the most challenging is certainly resisting assimilation!
Studying little known available sources concerning Gradišće Croats from the period of Turkish incursion to the present in domestic of foreign archives, Hajszan has penned a comprehensive historiography and philological analysis the stylistic characteristics of which are evident in a happy melding of scholarly meticulousness with publicistic discourse – endeavouring in authentic archival and linguistic material to find the motifs of the delayed modernisation of the Gradišće Croatian community – which saw its nascent phase in the emergence of an educated generation of Gradišće Croatians during the national reformation and revival work among the Gradišće Croatian community of Ignac Horvat.
As his historiographic and philological work is scattered in recent periodicals and miscellanies from expert round table in Austria, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary we at the Croatian Heritage Foundation, meticulously reading these periodicals concluded that it would be exceedingly beneficial to publish a selection of the works, feuilletons, essays, reflections and other texts by Robert Hajszan Panonski DSc to mark the thirty-fifth anniversary of his work. With sincerest congratulations to the author, we hope that he will continue in the future to offer readers fascinating insights into the life of the Croatians of Gradišće and the neighbouring regions.
Robert Hajszan’s 120-page Concerning Gradišće Croatian Pannonia is doubly valuable. On the one hand it documents the systematic work of an interesting historian and philologist, while on the other is demonstrates the robustness of the Gradišće Croatian community which has succeeded over more than 500 years to nurture and develop its language and culture within a majority Germanophone milieu.
Text by: Vesna Kukavica